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Who says fat can’t be fit?

Being healthy has more to do with your lifestyle than weight. Nutritionists and health experts also agree that it’s wrong to blame only your weight for health problems.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 28, 2011 13:19 IST
Shara Ashraf

Sandy Shaffer works out three times a week, eats lots of fruits and vegetables, yet finds time to teach in an aerobics class. At five-foot, five inches and 145 kgs, Shaffer is considered obese. But the plus-sized sports enthusiast and administrator at a New York city labour union insists that the label says little about the excellent state of her health. And that is the biggest problem she has with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move health initiative that encourages kids to slim down by eating better and getting more active.

Indian scenario

Closer home, Hetal Dave, India’s only female sumo wrestler who stands 5’7" tall and weighs 75 kg believes being overweight doesn’t mean being unhealthy, if you eat a balanced diet and follow a good fitness regimen. "I may be overweight but I feel much fitter than so many thin people around me. Being fit has little to do with your weight," says the 24-year-old. Dave’s diet comprises sprout salad, a big bowl of daal, roti and green vegetables and working out means four hours of cardio exercises and judo practice every day. Chocolates, sweets and aerated drinks are a big no-no for her.

Fat ladyEat less, workout more

Nutritionists and health experts also agree that it’s wrong to blame only your weight for health problems. Nutritionist Dr Shikha Sharma says, "More than weight, it’s the kind of lifestyle you lead that affects your health. You become susceptible to diseases when you are overweight, and live a sedentary lifestyle, eat junk food and have high stress level." Citing the example of a pahalwaan who may be some 15-20 kg overweight, she says, "If he is living a stress-free life, eats healthy food and indulges in workouts, his weight should not be a reason to worry about. But a call centre executive, who is overweight even by 5 kg, is always under stress, and gorges on junk, is many times more likely to face health problems."

Tackle the problem

A bit of caution is not bad, however, that doesn’t mean that you should junk your weight loss resolutions. "If you are not too overweight, you can take it a little easy. Keeping your weight under control is always a good idea," says dietician Simran Saini. "Overweight people may be more prone to diabetes, heart strokes, and Polycystic ovarian syndrome if they do not maintain a healthy lifestyle," adds Dr Saini. Dr Naini Setalvad, nutritionist and obesity health consultant seconds her opinion saying, "Being too overweight and living an unhealthy lifestyle is an invitation to diseases such as cardiovascular problems and even cancer."

With inputs from AFP